By Caoilte de Barra
The 2022 Asian Championships are nearing, and the Jordan Mixed Martial Arts Federation has two athletes entering the competition. Brothers Hazem and Zaki Kayyali are the two representatives, and they will compete in the same IMMAF competition for the first time.
This will be Hazem’s first time competing at the Asian Championships, having previously competed at two World Championships and the 2021 World Cup. The latter was his breakout competition, where he won four bouts in as many days to take gold in the middleweight division.
Zaki, on the other hand, will get to taste junior competition for the first time, becoming the first athlete from Jordan to graduate from the youth setup. His most recent outing at the youth world championships in August didn’t result in a medal but was another opportunity to gain valuable experience.
Ahead of his maiden junior outing, Zaki detailed his journey from his first youth world championships appearance back in 2021.
“Coming through the Youth Development system, I have come a long way from when I first competed in Bulgaria, learning from each fight and how to develop further as a fighter. In both world championships, I felt I had the best skill set in my division. However, I came up short in both competitions. I became an improved fighter every time I stepped out of the cage.”
Zaki was introduced to martial arts at the age of three by his father, Mohammed, and has been involved ever since. Emphasising the importance of family when competing, he said:
“I believe we are the best representatives of Team Jordan since not only do we have the skill set to win, but we are also camera friendly and know how to get people interested in watching us fight. Having my family is a necessity for fights. We always have each other’s backs, and no one knows us better than ourselves. We are all very competitive individuals and that has definitely helped us improve over the years of training.”
Zaki is the youngest of three brothers, while Hazem is the second eldest behind Laith. Similar to his brothers, Hazem was introduced to martial arts from a young age. His last IMMAF outing didn’t go to plan, but the BJJ Brown Belt learned a lot, particularly on the preparation side.
“From the unfortunate experience during the Worlds, I’ve learned that everything in the process of the preparations matters. IMMAF competitions aren’t easy, and you must prepare yourself to fight the best of the best.”
Echoing his brother’s sentiment, Hazem is motivated by having his brother with him in Tajikistan.
“It gives me so much more motivation that my little brother is coming along with me to continue his journey with IMMAF, now in the junior category. Having your family in your corner is an important part for us. Unfortunately, my father will not be coming with us this time again, but we definitely will do our absolute best to make him proud!
“We at our TK (TeamKayyali) gym are working hard on raising the next generation of IMMAF competitors. Our TK athletes are all going to watch us (their coaches) and cheer for us during the Asia Championships.”
The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation will be live streaming its 2022 Asian Championships live and on-demand at immaf.tv next week, from 27 – 30 October from 11:00 hrs (UTC+5). All matches from across 4 full days of elite amateur MMA action will be available worldwide from $9.99 for the Championships Pass.